A colleague and I developed this list of sex myths for a singles conference, but the points are appropriate for singles or couples of any age.
1. Bigger is better!
In a society that measures success with size (big house, big car), people can be worried if their body parts don't 'measure up.' Fear not! A body part's size is not related to its function. Female breasts of any size can produce milk, and any size of penis can urinate and pleasure its owner or a partner. Most women say they need other clitoral stimulation besides the penis to climax, anyway.
2. Simultaneous/multiple orgasm is a good sex objective
Contrary to carefully scripted Hollywood sex scenes, radio sex therapist Rhona Raskin says your orgasm is not an achievement award. Comedian Reggie Martin also has a word for simultaneous orgasm -- "coincidence." Sex is over when both people are satisfied, which may or may not include an orgasm for each.
3. Spontaneous is best
Sometimes. Sometimes this belief is used as a cover to escape responsible sexual planning (i.e. by not having condoms at hand). Sometimes scheduling in this hectic world is the only way sexual activity will happen. The sense of anticipation built up during the day (sexy phone calls or notes, getting the chores out of the way) can lead to a great encounter.
4. Sexual expectations are based on reality
No one ever tells us that only about one per cent of the population looks like models, or that sex can be awkward and messy. Expectations that are out of sync with reality and acting out fantasies can be disappointing. Fantasies don't have to consider real mechanics, real body parts, real fatigue or the diaphragm zinging across the room.
5. I can't get AIDS
AIDS is a disease of the general populace transmitted through the exchange of body fluids. Some groups are at higher risk than others are, but anyone can get AIDS and you can't tell by looking or listening if someone is infected. The only way to be sure is through testing and monogamy.
6. Sex = Intimacy
Sex can be a deeply intimate expression, or it can be very mechanical. Few people would view sex with a prostitute as intimate, for example, but sex may be one component in an intricate web of meaning, feelings and expression that defines an intimate relationship. Love and commitment -- not lust -- are the glue that holds a relationship together. Likewise physical affection is lovely unto itself, and not just as a prelude to sexual intercourse.
Page 1 of 2 -- From masturbation to having sex at a certain age, we debunk five more sex myths on page 2.
1. You can't get pregnant if it's your first time; if you douche with Coca-Cola; if you do it standing up, etc.
You have to be fairly clever (or gay) to defeat many years of refinements in the pregnancy mechanism. There is no magic day or magic way to have sex that guarantees no baby. Only methods prescribed by a doctor or labelled 'contraceptive' in the drugstore have prevention rates higher than 75 per cent.
2. Erections need 'fixing'
Erections occur for all kinds of reasons, often for purposes that have absolutely nothing to do with sex. A man's erection is not a disorder that only his partner can cure. An "achiness" in the pelvis in girls or guys that comes with arousal without orgasm will go away. No one ever died of an unresolved erection.
3. Masturbation is unhealthy
Most men and women, partnered or single, masturbate. The frequency varies with the individual: it's normal to do it and normal not to do it. It is one way to compensate for differing levels of desire. If you masturbate, you will not go blind or be affected mentally.
4. Sex is over at age...?
Aging affects sexual desire, thoughts and activity, but it doesn't mean a person's sex drive disappears. It's entirely possible to have a satisfying sexual life throughout one's lifespan. People who enjoyed sex when they were younger enjoy it when they're older too. Sometimes medical problems that are correctable can get in the way.
"If you really love me, you'll know what I like."
The most common sexual problem couples face is poor communication about what they like sexually. ESP is a poor way of conveying those needs and desires, especially when every woman reaches orgasm differently. Most couples aren't in perfect accord about frequency either.
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Alice Bell is a Vancouver-based sex educator, a mother of two teenagers and an amateur comedian. She has been a registered nurse since 1981 and speaks throughout western Canada and Japan to people of all ages on matters of sexual health. Bell is acquiring a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of British Columbia. She is a columnist for the national magazine Sex Matters.